Boko Haram insurgents killed 11 people and kidnapped 20 females--mostly children-- in an effort to establish an Islamic caliphate in the predominantly Christian city of Lassa, Borno State.
The Boko Haram insurgents invaded Lassa on December 3, seeking to impose sharia law throughout Nigeria, reports Morning Star News.
According to survivors, insurgents initially stormed the town on Nov. 29 but were repelled, then returned on Wednesday with tanks and explosives, destroying church buildings and homes.
"As it is now, Boko Haram is fully in charge in Lassa town and has declared the town a caliphate," one of the escapees said.
Church buildings destroyed in Lassa, in the Askira-Uba Local Government Area, include that of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN), the largest denomination in Borno state.
Daniel Ibrahim, a citizen of Lassa who escaped the carnage, told SaharaReporters that many of those killed were elderly, and those abducted were young girls.
"They [Boko Haram] abducted more than 20 girls from our town and killed many people, mostly old men and women," said Mr. Ibrahim.
"They burnt almost half of the town before they left. Those of us who were lucky fled, but they massacred aged ones and younger men they could catch," the informant stated. He said the town sucummbed to the terrorist group because the residents' appeals to security agencies to deploy more troops and to step up land and air operations were ignored. "That's why the town is now in the hands of Boko Haram," he said.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria's population of 158.2 million, while Muslims account for 45 percent and live mainly in the north.
Boko Haram is one of the world's most deadly extremists groups, and has terrorized northern Nigeria since 2009, attacking police, schools, churches and civilians and bombing government buildings.
Thousands of people have been killed and 1.6 million driven from their homes as the insurgents attempt to establish an Islamic State within the country.
Over the past three weeks, insurgents captured two additional Nigerian cities, including Shani and Chibok.
"Some Boko Haram gunmen attacked our town at about 8 p.m. on Saturday [Nov. 29] and killed many of our people," said one Christian survivor from Shani. "They set fire on churches and burned down our houses."
Another resident of Shani who escaped said he saw more than 30 armed Boko Haram gunmen invade.
"They bombed houses and shot those fleeing from them," he said. "They burned down our churches, and dead bodies of our people killed were littered all over."
In October, armed Muslim extremists stormed two churches in Taraba state, killing 31 people as they worshipped, a church leader said, and in April, Boko Haram militants drew international condemnation when they kidnapped more than 200 Christian schoolgirls. At least 57 have escaped, leaving 219 of the girls missing, with the group's leader saying they have been converted to Islam and married off or sold.
Persecution watchdog International Christian Concern has said that "far too many" Christians have been "martyred, displaced, and terrorized at the hands of armed extremists."
"For years, Boko Haram has waged a campaign of terror against Christians, moderate Muslims, educators and students, and law enforcement and military personnel for the establishment of a separate Islamic state," said ICC Regional Manager for Africa Cameron Thomas.
"The international community [must] come together and lend its full support to the Nigerian state in its battle against Boko Haram, and all other extreme ideologies plaguing the stability of not only that state, but the entire region."